Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(as listed in the Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2018)

16 October. Tuesday, Week 28

St Hedwig; St Margaret Mary Alacoque, (opt. mem.)

1st Reading: Galatians 5:1-6

In Christ Jesus, circumcision no longer counts; only faith acting through love

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

Responsorial Psalm (from Ps 119)

Response: Lord, let your love come to me

Lord, let your love come upon me,
the saving help of your promise.
Do not take the word of truth from my mouth
for I trust in your decrees. (R./)

I shall always keep your law
for ever and ever.
I shall walk in the path of freedom
for I see your precepts. (R./)

Your commands have been my delight;
these I have loved.
I will worship your commands and love them
and ponder your statutes. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 11:37-41

Purity of heart trumps exterior cleanliness. Alms have cleansing power

While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you."


Faithful to the end

"Faith" in Saint Paul's sense has as much to do with fidelity as with humble acceptance of God's grace. The Holy Spirit is present throughout the universe, slowly but surely revealing God's invisible realities. Thus the stakes of life are high. It is not a matter of "natural goodness" but of fidelity to a supernatural spirit within each person. The law of the flesh must give way to the law of the spirit. We are set free from laws about circumcision and legal cleanliness, clean and unclean foods, so that we can follow the more demanding law of the spirit, which is love and everlasting fidelity.

Jesus makes the demand more explicit, "give what you have as alms." love, therefore, is to be concerned about the needy and generous in attending to them. Then, he concluded, "all will be wiped clean for you." This is a curious thought. The poor and the needy generally have a more difficult time with cleanliness than the wealthy and the leisured class. The poor work longer hours, are involved with dirt, grease and dust, and do not have at hand all the conveniences of hot and cold running water, privacy and energy. Could this be why Jesus had not properly washed his hands before sitting down to eat at the Pharisee's house?

Knowing what's important

We know from experience that different things are important to different people. What is important to me is not necessarily important to someone else. We can get upset when something we think is important is not taken seriously by someone else who has a connection with us. In the gospel, Jesus is invited to a meal by a Pharisee. The Jewish ritual of washing in a certain way before meals was clearly a matter of importance to Jesus' host, but it wasn't an issue of any significance to Jesus. Other matters were more important to him. He tells his host that external ritual washings are far less important to him than the values and attitudes that we carry within us. Jesus looks for that inner disposition that finds expression in almsgiving, for example. This was a very important Jewish practice, this willingness to give generously from our resources to those in need.

This encounter reminds us that what we think important is not necessarily what the Lord considers important. What we value is not always what he values. We need to spend our lives trying to imbibe his values, his priorities, and allowing them to shape our hearts and minds. As Paul says, we are to put on the mind of Christ. We need to listen to the gospels in particular, if our priorities are to be in line with the Lord's priorities, if our hearts are to reflect something of his heart.


Saint Gall, abbot and missionary

Gall or Gallus (c. 550-645) studied in the monastery at Bangor, Co. Down and was one of the companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to the European continent. First they lived a monastic life in Luxeuil (France); and then (610) they voyaged up the Rhine to Bregenz. But when Columban moved on to Italy, Gall remained behind due to illness and was nursed at Arbon, just south of the Bodensee (Lake Constance). He led the life of a hermit and preacher for many years, and died at the age of ninety-five near the city now called Sankt Gallen.

Saint Hedwig, religious

Hedwig or Jadwiga (1174-1243) was Duchess of Silesia from 1201 and High Duchess of Poland from 1232. On the death of her husband, Henry (1238) she entered the Cistercian monastery which he had established at her request and lived there the rest of her life as a lay sister.

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, religious

Margaret Alacoque (1647-1690) from L'Hautecour, Burgundy, was from early childhood devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. After four years of illness, at the age of 13 she vowed to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, and was restored to perfect health, adding the name Mary to her baptismal name. She experienced mystical visions of Jesus Christ, whom she zealously proclaimed under the symbol of the Sacred Heart.